January 9, 2007 | David F. Coppedge

Non-Embryonic Stem Cells Found in Amniotic Fluid

A vast source of possibly pluripotent stem cells without ethical problems has been discovered in amniotic fluid by scientists at Wake Forest University.  Ronald Green of Dartmouth is hoping the science pans out, according to National Geographic News.  He said, “We are very much in need of ‘ethically universal’ lines [of stem cells] that anyone can use, regardless of their views on the moral status of the human embryo.”  The amniotic stem cells also avoid the problem of cancerous tumors that plague embryonic stem cells.  See also reports on Baptist Press, BBC News, Live Science, Family Research Council and Agape Press, which hopes Nancy Pelosi is listening two days before a Congressional vote on funding of stem cell research.

It will be interesting to watch the liberal pro-embryonic-stem cell people respond to this announcement.  So much money and momentum is behind the use of embryos for stem cells, they are sure to find flaws in this study that help them argue that killing embryos is still needed.  Follow the money trail, as always.  If this turns into a victory for the pro-life side, remember that it is only one stem of a thorny tree.  Last week, for instance, a Nature editorial (4 January, doi:10.1038/445001a) vacillated on chimera research (the mixing of human brain cells with animals).  The main thing holding back the editors from endorsing a full-steam-ahead attitude was fear over a public outcry that might restrict funding.
    Remember, nobody is banning embryonic stem cell research with private funds.  Why, though, should the public be forced to spend their tax dollars on research many of them find objectionable?  Some call the harvesting of human embryos the moral equivalent of cannibalism, said the BBC News.  As radio talk show host Laura Ingraham likes to point out, we are all former embryos.

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Categories: Politics and Ethics

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